The House of Representatives has crafted a new semiconductor and innovation legislative measure that features $52 billion in funding for semiconductor production, $45 billion for supply chain issues, and the establishment of a new Science and Engineering Solutions Directorate at the National Science Foundation (NSF).
The bill, called the America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology and Economic Strength Act of 2022 (America COMPETES), is expected to be conferenced with the Senate-approved United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA). The latter measure is being closely watched by the tech sector for its aim to fund a proposed new NSF Technology Directorate.
“The United States has long been a beacon of excellence in science and engineering. If we’re going to continue to lead, the time is now to chart our own course,” Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Tex. – chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology which wrote the bill – said in a release. “That’s what my colleagues and I in the House plan to do with the America COMPETES Act of 2022.”
In addition to including pieces of the Senate USICA bill – such as the $52 billion to fully fund the CHIPS Act and boost semiconductor production – the House measure also includes legislative language from a variety of bills that came out of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, including two House alternatives to USICA: the NSF for the Future Act, and the Department of Energy (DOE) Science for the Future Act.
“I am so proud of the bipartisan Science Committee provisions that are included in this package,” Johnson added. “Our bills were built from the ground up with rigorous input from the scientific community on what they need most to succeed in the 21st century. They will bolster our nation’s competitiveness and reaffirm our global leadership in innovation and technology. These transformative investments in science and innovation will help us to revitalize our research infrastructure, create STEM opportunities for all, build clean energy solutions, address the climate crisis, reinforce our national security, enhance our semiconductor manufacturing capabilities, and so much more.”
What’s in the House bill?
The House bill includes $52 billion to fully fund the 2020 CHIPS Act, $45 billion in grants to help build supply chain resiliency, and a hearty investment in domestic research in development focused on NSF, DOE, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), as well as Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) topics overall.
The legislative language of the bill includes the NSF for the Future Act, the DOE Science for the Future Act, and the NIST for the Future Act.
The NSF for the Future Act, originally introduced in March 2021, would establish an NSF Directorate for Science and Engineering Solutions (SES), expand education and research on STEM, and increase NSF funding to $11 billion in Fiscal Year 2022 (FY2022) and up to $14.5 billion over the next five years. The SES Directorate would be funded at $40 million per year from FY2022-FY2026.
Meanwhile, the DOE Science for the Future Act would make similar investments in the DoE’s Office of Science over the course of five years. The bill provides funding for investment in renewable energies and research into emerging tech, and, in all, invests $50 billion over five years in the DoE Office of Science and National Labs.
Additionally, the legislative language in the NIST for the Future Act would boost funding for the agency by 36 percent in FY2022, with smaller, consistent growth thereafter. The additional funding would help support the creation of quantum, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity technologies. The bill also includes support for software supply chains, as well as funding to help tackle climate change.
The House bill, if approved, would help bring Congress a step closer to conferencing with the Senate on the USICA bill, and getting a major legislative priority done this year.
“The introduction of the vital America COMPETES Act of 2022 in the House is an important step forward to setting up a conference with the Senate-passed U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, so we can quickly negotiate a final bill for the president to sign into law,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a release. “We have no time to waste in improving American competitiveness, strengthening our lead in global innovation, and addressing supply chain challenges, including in the semiconductor industry.”
The Senate passed USICA last June, and the House followed up with its alternative bills later that same month. Afterward, movement on the bills stalled until a late effort was mounted to add the bill to the fiscal year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act.
While that effort failed, the move led to a conference agreement between Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. With a busy calendar and other priorities, it didn’t get done before the end of 2021, but Pelosi mentioned it as a priority in a Jan. 21 Dear Colleague letter, and President Biden recently called for movement on the bill.
“Under the leadership of Science, Space and Technology Committee Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson, the House has led a rigorous and comprehensive process to forge results-focused solutions that will power research that will ensure a prosperous future for our nation,” Pelosi said after the bill was introduced. “Major components of this package have already passed the House with overwhelmingly bipartisan votes, and we look forward to conferencing this bill with the Senate to get legislation to the President’s desk as soon as possible.”